Rick and Morty continues on its awesome path of trope deconstruction. Last week, it took the idea of twists (specifically the “we were inside a giant simulation all along!” twist), making use of it while actively pointing out how stupid it is. In “Meeseeks and Destroy,” the show plays with the very concept of what we think “adventure” should look like.
See, Morty is getting sick of the types of adventures Rick takes him on. When we join the two of them, they’re just finishing up a particularly traumatic experience requiring Morty to murder demon clones of his mother, father, and sister. Believing that Rick’s leadership is the reason their adventures turn out so screwed up, Morty makes a bet with him that he can take them on a proper adventure, explaining: “Adventures are supposed to be simple and fun!”
What’s brilliant about this episode is how it demonstrates that Rick and Morty is a show that imagines adventures as not simple and fun, but instead potentially horrific in very real ways. And it does this by taking apart its own formula a bit. Switching it from the standard “Rick takes Morty on a crazy adventure” to “Morty attempts to take Rick on a simple, fun adventure” is the show already questioning its own structure (only five episodes in, no less!) and showing that, no, actually it’s impossible to have a “normal” adventure in Rick and Morty because this universe is so totally fucked up.
Also something of an inversion of the structure established in the four episodes prior to this one is that it’s the remainder of Morty’s family who arguably experience the more wacky, adventure-y half of the episode. Morty’s parents, Jerry and Beth, and his sister, Summer, keep bothering Rick for science doohickeys that will solve their insignificant problems, so he leaves them with a Meeseeks Box, a box with a button on top that, when pushed, conjures a member of the meeseeks race into existence to fulfill one request. Once the request is fulfilled, they poof-explode to death. (In fact, they want to complete their duties so they can die as quickly as possible and go totally nuts when they can’t, which is an awesome, creepy idea that I love a lot).
Rick instructs them to keep their requests simple. Summer asks her Mr. Meeseeks for popularity while Beth asks her Mr. Meeseeks (they’re all named Mr. Meeseeks) to make her a more complete woman. Jerry goes for something simple: take two strokes off his golf game.
The fact that Jerry’s request ends up being the one the meeseeks find impossible to fulfill (because he just sucks that bad at golf) continues to drive home just how much of a Charlie-Brown-esque loser he is. And Beth actually gets some decent character development as we get a real feel for just how stifled she is in her marriage to Jerry. I’ve said in the past that I’ve heard arguments that this is very much a “boy’s show” so it’s nice to see one of the lead female characters getting rounded out just a bit more. Oh, but I mentioned adventure. Well, this plot culminates in the meeseeks freaking out and threatening to shoot innocent people dead unless Jerry ups his golf game.
Meanwhile, with Rick and Morty’s half of the episode, Morty picks the safest adventure locale there is by having them travel to a medieval fantasy dimension. They also receive a very run-of-the-mill-sounding quest to steal some treasure from a greedy giant in the clouds and bring it back to a small, poor town. But, because this is this show, the giant dies in a freak accident, his giant wife calls the giant police, and Rick and Morty are tried at giant court. They’re found innocent, but, leaving the giant courtroom, they find that just scaling down the colossal steps proves to be a long, tedious task in itself. When Rick remarks on a what boring adventure this is turning out to be, Morty retorts: “If this was a story, this part wouldn’t be included, stupid.”
I don’t think I laughed as much I did with last week’s “M. Night Shaym-Aliens!” but I adored this episode and, honestly, this is because it was tonally reminiscent of show creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s other collaborative animated effort, Mr. Sprinkles. That show took a fantastical character and forced him into harsh, real-world situations. This episode of Rick and Morty makes clear that this show takes fantastical settings and has the characters experience real-world problems within them. But, essentially, what both shows do is merge the fun of high-concept adventure with the fucked-upness of reality. I feel like this is what Harmon and Roiland really excel at and “Meeseeks and Destroy” is the most perfect example of it yet.
Also, it features a hairy jelly bean creature attempting to rape Morty.
Best episode yet!!!